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Seminar in the History of the Book to 1500
Oxford, July 1998


Seminar in the History of the Book to 1500 1998 Conference: Fragments and their problems Call for papers
The Seminar's 1998 conference, 10-12 July 1998, in Oxford, will focus on fragments of books. One-page abstracts should reach Peggy Smith by 1 November 1997, at the e-mail here (M.M.Smith@READING.AC.UK), or Department of Typography & Graphic Communication, The University of Reading, 2 Earley Gate, Whiteknights, Reading RG6 6AU, UK. Papers can be up to 40 minutes long. Even though books constitute the most commonly surviving medieval artefact, they represent only a small proportion of their original number. What happened to those that were lost? We know that some of them exist now as fragments. As such they offer rich, if problematic, evidence and opportunities for the book historian. The theme of this conference will be the fragments of medieval books and their value to book historians of all kinds. We therefore invite papers on this theme from paleographers, codicologists, conservators, bookbinding historians, book dealers and private collectors, incunabulists, archivists and manuscript curators, art historians, literary historians, etc. Papers can approach fragments from any angle: why books came to be fragmented (dilapidation, obsolescence or political incorrectness), the unique texts fragments preserve, what fragments tell us about production methods (as spoiled sheets or printer's waste), how they were re-used (from palimpsests for new texts, to various parts of bookbindings and for other "servile" purposes, and how early the practice began), their value in teaching, the dilemmas they pose to librarians and conservators (such as their identification, control and storage), whether the modern trade in them should be stopped. Case studies would be welcome, but particularly if they give consideration to broader issues of the problems and contributions of fragments. ------------------------------